Lesson 10     May 31-June 6

"When Men Shall Revile You"

READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Matt. 5:11, 12; 21:35,38; 1 Tim. 1:13; 2 Cor. 4:4; John 16:2; Dan. 7:21, 22, 25; 12:1; Rev. 7:13-15.

MEMORY TEXT: "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matt. 5:12).

KEY THOUGHT: In Matthew 5:12, Christ directly admonishes his disciples to be happy when they are persecuted for His sake. Christ was not suggesting that they take pleasure in suffering for its own sake, but rather, that in suffering they look forward to their reward in heaven.

Sabbath Afternoon May 30

SUFFERING FOR CHRIST. From their content, these words of Jesus seem to be a simple unfolding of the statement made in the last beatitude. By the verb forms, however, it appears that He was speaking directly to His disciples, that He was no longer satisfied to speak in a general way to all the congregation assembled. Supporting this inference is the change from the impersonal third-person form of the verbs used in the preceding beatitudes to the more direct second-person form. Here Jesus is no longer making a simple statement of blessing for those who meet the qualifications pointed out in the preceding beatitudes. Instead, He is addressing His disciples in a personal, direct way, inviting them to be happily counted worthy of suffering shame for His name, and to rejoice in anticipation of the recompense awaiting them in heaven. It is in this setting that we will direct our thinking to the age-old conflict between forces of good and evil and to the final tribulation that soon will be the portion of witnesses to truth.  

Sunday May 31

HAPPY ARE YOU (Matt. 5:11).

What attitude should the persecuted believer possess? The true cause of the happiness of those whom Jesus declared "blessed" is not found in themselves. Rather it is in the Lord's promise to them. In each beatitude Jesus stated the reason for happiness in the second part of the declaration. The poor in spirit, they that mourn, those who hunger and thirst, the persecuted. All are blessed because Jesus is able to promise them the kingdom of heaven, consolation, satisfaction, the title "son of God," a vision of God.

Clearly, persecution itself cannot be a cause for rejoicing for those who suffer. The apostles did not glory in the furnace, trials, tribulations. Persecution was of no value as a meritorious experience. The happiness of the persecuted Christians has its source in Christ. They are happy who are reviled, persecuted, or falsely accused "for my sake," Jesus specified, or "for my name's sake" (Luke 21:12). That is so "because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you," and because you suffer "as a Christian" (1 Peter 4:14, 16, RSV).

What are two reasons for rejoicing, according to Jesus?  Matt. 5:12.  

The Beatitudes have already outlined the recompense for suffering during the earthly phase of the Messianic kingdom. The Master now indicates the place of the reward. "Great is your reward in heaven." Only in the kingdom of heaven will the redeemed receive the reward that the Lord has prepared for them.

The second reason indicated here is found in the comparison made with the prophets. They who are persecuted, as were the prophets, can count on receiving the same recompense reserved for the prophets. "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. 11:39, 40).

"As men seek to come into harmony with God, they will find that the offense of the cross has not ceased. Principalities and powers and wicked spirits in high places are arrayed against all who yield obedience to the law of heaven. Therefore, so far from causing grief, persecution should bring joy to the disciples of Christ, for it is an evidence that they are following in the steps of their Master."--Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 29, 30.

How do you react when others slander you and say all sorts of false things about you for being a true disciple of Christ?  

Monday June 1


The parable of the vineyard proves the infinite patience and goodness of God toward people, at the same time that it points out man's ingratitude and cruelty. True, this parable was directed especially to the Israelites, but it also illustrates the general attitude of humankind toward God's messengers. Stephen's literal application of this truth in his discourse resulted in his martyrdom. He said, "Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered" (Acts 7:52, RSV).

What did Jesus say was the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees toward the prophets? Matt. 23:29-35.  

"The gems of truth that fell from Christ's lips on that eventful day [when He pronounced woe on the scribes and Pharisees] were treasured in many hearts. For them new thoughts started into life, new aspirations were awakened, and a new history began. After the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, these persons came to the front, and fulfilled their divine commission with a wisdom and zeal corresponding to the greatness of the work. ... Mighty were the results flowing from the words of the Saviour to that wondering, awestruck crowd in the temple at Jerusalem."--The Desire of Ages, p. 620.

What does Stephen's martyrdom tell you about the kind of relationship he had with Jesus?  Acts 7:55, 56, 60.  

Being willing to give our lives for Christ shows that we are dead to self and alive in Christ.  It reveals that we are totally devoted to Christ, and that He is very precious to us, more precious than life itself. It is a clear indication that our lives are hid in Christ and that we have the assurance of eternal life in Him. There is no more effective testimony for the gospel than that of men and women ready to give their lives for it.

"When the noble and eloquent Stephen was stoned to death at the instigation of the Sanhedrin council, there was no loss to the cause of the gospel. ... Saul, the persecuting Pharisee, became a chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ before Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel."--Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 33, 34.

If the crime of being a true disciple of Christ is punishable by death, and you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?   

Tuesday June 2

BLINDED BY THE GOD OF THIS WORLD (1 Tim. 1:13; 2 Cor. 4:4; John 16:2).

Those persecuted for righteousness' sake have unanimously pleaded extenuating circumstances for their persecutors. Jesus set the example when on the cross He prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). After openly accusing his audience of having "killed the Prince of life," Peter, for his part, added, "Now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers" (Acts 3:15, 17). Speaking from experience, the apostle Paul explained that if "the princes of this world" had known "the wisdom of God," "they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:6-8). No one knew better than Paul how easily religious prejudice can lead to violence. "I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9, RSV).

Who is actually responsible for the constant war against God's people throughout history?  Matt. 22:3-6; John 13:27; 2 Thess. 2:9; Eph. 6:11, 12.  

Just as there is the mystery of godliness to designate the incomprehensible work of God on the human heart, there is also a mystery of iniquity to indicate the work, no less mysterious, of him whom the Bible calls "the devil" and "Satan." He is  the antichrist, the great adversary of God's children. When he cannot defeat them by violence, he tries to seduce them  through all sorts of subtle deceptions and miracles.

What is the essential difference between God's work on people to make them His instruments and the work of Satan?   

"God never forces the will or the conscience; but Satan's constant resort--to gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise seduce--is compulsion by cruelty. Through fear or force he endeavors to rule the conscience and to secure homage to himself. To accomplish this, he works through both religious and secular authorities, moving them to the enforcement of human laws in defiance of the law of God."--The Great Controversy, p. 591.

Are you willing to pray for your persecutors, who hate you for no reason except that you love Christ? What does it say about the quality of your spiritual experience when you give your persecutors the benefit of doubt or plead extenuating circumstances in their behalf?   

Wednesday June 3


If, as the prophet Amos affirmed, "The Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7, KJV), God would surely reveal the trouble that awaited His people throughout history. He would do this, not to frighten them, but to encourage them to be faithful and warn them to be prepared. With mathematical precision God did unveil the 1260 years of papal persecution to Daniel. Seven times this prophetic period is mentioned in the Bible (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5), and each time in connection with the war that the powers of darkness would wage against God's people. In His prophetic discourse Jesus also alluded to this dramatic time in the history of the Christian church.  (See Matt. 24:8-10.)

What assurance does prophecy give concerning the outcome of this war?  Dan. 7:22, 28, 18.  

"All earthly kings and governments will pass away, but the kingdom of the Most High will endure forever. The usurpation and misrule of the wicked may last for a time, but soon it will be at an end. Then this earth will be restored to its rightful Owner, who will share it with the saints. Those who have long been destitute and despised by men will soon be honored and exalted by God."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 830.

Why did God intervene to shorten the persecution of the 1260-year prophecy?  Matt. 24:22. 

"The persecution of the church did not continue throughout the entire period of the 1260 years.  God in mercy to His people cut short the time of their fiery trial. In foretelling the 'great tribulation' to befall the church, the Saviour said: 'Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.' Matthew 24:22. Through the influence of the Reformation the persecution was brought to an end prior to 1798."--The Great Controversy, pp. 266, 267.

What difference does it make in your live today to have the assurance that the truth will ultimately triumph, the great controversy will finally end, and, evil will forever be eradicated?  Do you find yourself longing for that day?  What can, do to tell others about this good news?  

Thursday June 4


As you study Daniel 12:1, what great hope do you see in the midst of the terrible time of trouble?  

It is easy to find ourselves focusing on the great time of trouble and find ourselves greatly troubled. However, we must see the time of trouble from the context of Daniel 12:1. Notice that the depiction of the time of trouble is introduced and concluded with great encouragement. It is introduced with Michael standing up for God's people, and it is concluded with God's people being delivered.

In the last days God's people should not be deceived concerning the future of the world and the coming crisis. With the Lord standing up for them and assuring them of deliverance, they will undergo such crisis and come through victoriously. God has not left us in darkness regarding this subject. Not only has He given us the Bible prophecies intended especially for Christians in the end of time, but again through the Spirit of Prophecy He gave the remnant church a clear vision of final events.

"The world  is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecy of the eleventh chapter of Daniel has nearly reached its complete fulfillment. Soon the scenes of trouble spoken of in the prophecies will take place."--Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 14.

What reassuring promise did the Lord give His church concerning the great trial ahead?  What does it mean to keep the word of His patience?   Rev. 3:10.  

The time of trouble and testing will drive us to hold on to the sure promises of God. Such time will require us to be persevering, tenacious, and patient just as our Lord was under trial.

"When the testing time shall come, those who have made God's word their rule of life will be revealed. In summer there is no noticeable difference between evergreens and other trees; but when the blasts of winter come, the evergreens remain unchanged, while other trees are stripped of their foliage."--The Great Controversy, p. 602.

"None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict."--The Great Controversy, pp. 593, 594.

Do you find yourself dwelling more on the time of trouble or more on Christ, who will keep you during the time of trouble?  Reflect prayerfully on your answer. 

Friday June 5

FURTHER STUDY: The Great Controversy, pp. 477, 516, 517; Christ's Object Lessons, "The Lord's Vineyard," pp. 296-300; "Without a Wedding Garment," pp. 310-312; Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 298.

"The heirs of God have come from garrets, from hovels, from dungeons, from scaffolds, from mountains, from deserts, from the caves of the earth, from the caverns of the sea. On earth they were 'destitute, afflicted, tormented.' Millions went down to the grave loaded with infamy because they steadfastly refused to yield to the deceptive claims of Satan. By human tribunals they were adjudged the vilest of criminals. But now 'God is judge himself.' Psalm 50:6. Now the decisions of earth are reversed. ... They [God's people] are no longer feeble, afflicted, scattered, and oppressed. Henceforth they are to be ever with the Lord. They stand before the throne clad in richer robes than the most honored of the earth have ever worn. They are crowned with diadems more glorious than were ever placed upon the brow of earthly monarchs. The days of pain and weeping are forever ended."--The Great Controversy, p. 650.


1. When the enemies of God persecute Christians, their aim is usually to crush that person's influence. But what is generally the end result? Give some examples from history.  
2. Why are the messengers or the prophets not usually well received by then majority?  
3. How can you find more me, to commune with your Lord, to study the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy?   

4. What can you do to prepare for the persecution to come? 

SUMMARY:  We are engaged in a great controversy--the forces of evil against the powers of good.  As we near the end of time, Satan will muster his forces with all his might against God's people because he knows his time is short. Yet, we are not engaged in this battle alone. God has promised to be with us through the end and has prepared blessings for us in heaven beyond what we can imagine.    

Sumathi: Woman With a Mission

John M. Fowler

Sumathi enjoyed her busy life as a pastor's wife, mother, children's Sabbath school teacher, and dorcas leader. She thought she was doing all she could for God. Then, while attending meetings for ministers' wives, she listened to leading women in the church challenge the wives to greater service for God. "You are a chosen vessel to speak for your Lord, just as your husband is. Discover your talents and commit them to God's use."

Sumathi sat dazed as she considered what more she could do for God. How can I touch someone's life for God's glory? I do not have a good education; I am frail, and I can hardly speak. Her list continued to grow, but the speakers challenged the women to test God and allow Him to work through them. Sumathi had no peace until she accepted God's challenge to try.

Back home she began to work for the neediest, most neglected women in town, those who had suffered abuse and degradation at the hands of others. Sumathi visited these women. She told them about Jesus, who once transformed a woman caught in adultery--very much like some of them--from a broken piece of humanity into a loving disciple. Jesus could transform them, too, and give them hope and dignity. After weeks of visiting, studying, praying, and encouraging, 27 women with whom Sumathi was working accepted Christ's offer of wholeness and were baptized.

But these women needed more than the mere promise of a new life. They had no education.  Without help they would lose hold of their fragile hope. They needed to learn a skill and become financially stable. If Sumathi could teach these women to sew, they could bless others even as Dorcas blessed those around her.

Sumathi had no money to train these women. So she wrote to Shepherdess International, the organization of Adventist ministers wives, "Give us tools," she challenged, "and we will empower these women, not just spiritually, but economically and socially."

Sumathi received funds to buy seven sewing machines and enough supplies to establish a tailoring center. Today these new believers stand tall. Through the power of Jesus they rose from the depths of despair to live with honor and dignity. They are testimony to the power in Jesus that can save to the uttermost.

Sumathi Kajhekar and her pastor-husband live in Jalna, Maharashtra State, India. John M. Fowler is associate director of the Education Department at the General Conference of Seventhday Adventists.

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